Farmer Boy

September 2, 2009 at 2:02 am (Children's lit, Classics, Historical fiction, Juvanalia) (, )

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
originally published 1933
HarperTrophy, ?th printing, 1971
372 pages
Genre: Children’s literature, fictionalized biography, historical fiction

Synopsis & Review: When Farmer Boy opens, Almanzo Wilder is not-quite-nine-years-old and on his way to school with his brother Royal and sisters Eliza and Alice. It is the beginning of his formal schooling, but Almanzo is already well on his way to assuming adult responsibilities. His day starts at five, when he gets up for the morning chores. After school, he and Royal assist Father in feeding and watering the stock, cleaning the stalls and pens, laying out fresh straw, milking, and finally Almanzo cares for his own two responsibilities, his calves Star and Bright. Throughout the winter there are many special chores to be done when the weather permits, and Almanzo must sometimes stay home from school to cut ice from the lake or break his little calves to yoke, collecting sap for sugaring, busheling potatoes to sell, and finally, cleaning the house and barns from top to bottom for spring. There are cold snaps necessitating labor through the night to save the crops. And then come long days of harrowing the fields, then the sowing of grain, rye, grass, and carrots, and planting potatoes and corn. The sheep must be sheared, wool dyed, soap made, pumpkins and other vegetables planted, and then the fields hoed for weeds. And after a long summer of growing, the approach of fall beings harvest time, and hay cutting, reaping and threshing wheat, shocking oats and harvesting all the crops fill their days from dawn till dark. Apples are picked, potatoes, carrots, and turnips dug, and then comes butchering time. Animals are butchered, sausage made, hams hung, and pork pickled, and even candles made. Life is a race against the weather, for the cellars and attics must be filled with the fruits of their labors before the snows come.

But it is not all work and no play for the Wilders. There are also trips to town for Independence Day, visits from the tin-peddler, birthday surprises, and county fairs. Almanzo and his family go fishing and berrying in the summer, and have cousins over for Christmas. When Mother and Father go visiting, Almanzo and his siblings make candy and ice cream. But Almanzo gets the most satisfaction from working with his calves, in anticipation of the day when he might work his very own colt.

When you mention Farmer Boy to most devotees of the Little House books, you’re likely to get one of two reactions: a) The boy book! and b) The FOOD book! Read the rest of this entry »

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Little House in the Big Woods

August 18, 2009 at 10:40 pm (Children's lit, Classics, Historical fiction, Juvanalia) (, )

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
originally published 1932
HarperTrophy, ?th printing, 1971
238 pages
Genre: Children’s literature, fictionalized biography, historical fiction

Synopsis & Review: Seven miles from the town of Pepin on the shores of Lake Pepin deep in the Wisconsin woods stood a little log house. And in that house lived Laura Ingalls, her older sister Mary, her Ma and her Pa, and Baby Carrie. Though the woods are big and dark, those log walls are thick and the little log house snug, and the Ingalls family safe inside. From winter preparations and then Chrsitmas when she is four, through Laura’s fifth birthday and till the next winter, Little House in the Big Woods depicts life on the Wisconsin Big Woods. Pa spends his winter days hunting and trapping, and preparing for spring, and his warm weather days planting and harvesting, as well as keeping the woods from overtaking the little house. Ma tends the cabin in a never-ending cycle of cooking, cleaning, mending, washing, and ironing. Life is not lonely in the Big Woods, however, and friends and family alike visit and are visited, helping each other work–and play.

I remember seeing the cover of On the Banks of Plum Creek on a wire rack in one of my third grade classrooms–and I hated it. Read the rest of this entry »

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